Sunken galleon holds huge amount of treasure

A sunken galleon found off Colombia's Caribbean coast could hold some 4 billion U.S. dollars worth of gold coins and precious gems, local media said Saturday.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos held a press conference in the coastal city of Cartagena to announce the find, which he described as one of the greatest discovery of sunken heritage in the history of mankind.

The ship, said Santos, was discovered on Nov. 27 by Colombia's Navy working in conjunction with the country's national institute of history archaeology.

The vessel is believed to be the long-lost San Jose galleon, which had set sail for Spain laden with treasure from the New World, but came under attack by a British vessel and sank in 1708. Some 600 passengers and crew perished.

The number of cannons and the material aboard leave no doubt as to the identity of the vessel, a researcher told the press conference.

Colombia's Caracol news network interviewed several experts who said the find could lead to disputes with countries such as Spain or Peru, which may claim the ship's contents.

Work is expected to begin immediately on a museum to house the treasures.

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